CHINA / National

Typhoon kills 23 in China, 4 missing
By Zhan Lisheng/Li Dapeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-05-20 08:50

The death toll from Typhoon Chanchu, the strongest typhoon on record to enter the South China Sea region in May, rose to 23 on Friday.

Eight people died in Guangdong including five in a traffic accident and 15 in Fujian, where four were still missing.

Damage from Chanchu also reached at least 3.7 billion yuan (US$456 million) in Guangdong, said Liu Zhiwei, an official with the provincial civil affairs department, on Friday.

Fujian reported roughly the same amount of damage on Thursday.

Shantou, in eastern Guangdong, bore the major brunt of Chanchu with damage estimated at 2.56 billion yuan (US$320 million), said Yang Danyang, a publicity official from the Shantou municipal government.

And the city suffered further tragedy on Friday when 13 people were killed in a fire in a textile factory, not related to Chanchu.

The typhoon triggered landslides and caused houses to collapse throughout parts of Guangdong and Fujian.

Most of the dead in Fujian were killed in landslides, including four children, according to the Fujian Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Department.

The provincial government has provided a relief fund of 8.5 million yuan (US$1.06 million) for affected areas.

Chanchu, which brought heavy rain and winds of up to 170 kilometres per hour, made landfall between Shantou and Chaozhou in Guangdong early on Thursday.

As it moved inland the winds lessened and the typhoon was downgraded to a tropical storm, which headed northeast bringing heavy rainfall in eastern regions.

The weather in Shanghai improved on Friday as the typhoon weakened, after bringing rain and gusting winds in what officials said was the season's earliest typhoon to affect the city in 80 years.

Chanchu had forced the evacuation of more than a million people in total, as well as the cancellation of flights and ferries.

In Viet Nam a fisheries official from the central province of Quang Ngai said 27 fishermen earlier listed as missing were safe but their three ships had sunk.

All 94 Vietnamese fishermen from the province who were caught in the typhoon have taken shelter on a Chinese island, he added.